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D&D 5E The alignments defined

dave2008

Legend
Lying is not evil. Harming, oppressing and killing others is evil. Lying doesnt fit into those categories unless its used to harm or oppress others.
Then we have to get into a discussion of what is good and evil.
Deception can in fact be Good (in that a lie can protect someone from harm).
By that definition many things I consider "evil" (I put that in quotes because I don't truly believe in good and evil) can in fact be "good." You can murder someone to protect others for example.
It doent work that way. A morally good person doesnt engage in 'the odd murder' here or there, or just the one off light bit of genocide.
a good person can murder someone to protect themselves or others. You can play this game with a lot of good and evil things. IMO, context and scale matter.
If they're doing those things, they are (by extension) no longer a morally good person, and likely never in fact was a morally good person, seeing as they did things a morally good person would never do.
I would argue they performed an evil act. Such an act could make them no longer a morally good person, but not necessarily. Context, scale, and how they respond matters IMO.
 

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Then we have to get into a discussion of what is good and evil.
By that definition many things I consider "evil" (I put that in quotes because I don't truly believe in good and evil) can in fact be "good."

Good: Altruism, mercy, compassion, charity, self sacrifice.
Evil: Harming, oppressing and killing others.

The only time a good person harms someone else or takes a life is when there is no other option reasonably open to them to protect their own life or the life of someone else.

Examples include self defence, and military action in a just war against a foreign invader.

Such killings are not good, but also are they not evil.

Some truly Good people take it to the extremes. They give away all their possessions (charity) or take vows of non-violence or conscientious objectors, and dedicate their lives to helping the lives of others etc.

We can see these same moral values being expressed in DnD over the years with Paladins being restricted in what they could own, vows of Poverty and Non violence in the Book of Exhalted deeds, mercy and redemption being key to what it means to be 'Good'. Positive energy 'heals' and negative energy 'harms'.

Evil things OtoH generally just go around harming stuff.

To summarise - Good help (at personal cost) and avoid evil. Evil harm (to gain something) and avoid good.

You can murder someone to protect others for example.

Thats not murder then is it? Not in any legal jurisdiction Im aware of. If the person killed was trying to kill or harm someone else, and the force you used was proportionate, it's not murder or manslaughter.

The killing was justified.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Thats not murder then is it? Not in any legal jurisdiction Im aware of. If the person killed was trying to kill or harm someone else, and the force you used was proportionate, it's not murder or manslaughter.

The killing was justified.
When I say murder I simply mean killing. I'm not trying to get to a legal definition. I am saying the act of killing is evil whether justified or not. You are basically using the same reasoning as the OP. You could find a justification for genocide for example and then, by your example, it is not an evil act because it is "justified?" I don't think it works that way.

This of course is only relevant if "evil" is a thing. I don't believe in good and evil, so I go back and forth on these things :p
 
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Coroc

Hero
When I say murder I simply mean killing. I'm not trying to get to a legal definition. I am saying the act of killing is evil whether justified or not. You are basically using the same reasoning as the OP. You could find a justification for genocide for example and then, by your example, it is not an evil act because it is "justified?" I don't think it works that way.

This of course is only relevant if "evil" is a thing. I don't believe in good and evil, so I go back and forth on these things :p

Yes, but that is why evolution does not eradicate evil IRL. The evil is more likely to survive, than someone so good that he prefers to sacrifice himself, before resorting to violence even in self defense.

You could start a discussion whether not defending himself and just dying is an evil act versus the people who love him, because with his inaction he makes them suffering and grieving for him.
 

The thing about Orc is that we can see them as a race, with family, children.
But in the Lord of the Ring Sarouman fabricate its orcs from mud pit much like a clone factory.
Those orcs can be view as soulless killing machine to which you don’t have to pay mercy.
But today we are more concern seeing orc as a specie with cultural agressive behavior.
And thus an orc is a being as much as a human.
Those two point of view can be use in DnD And will provide very different game style.
 

And the key I think is cooperation and respect at the table.
Once you assume that, DnD offer the possibility to play shining hero or bad ass hero, or simply bad ass character Not heroic at all. No character is tied to its starting alignment if any. But you should not forget that you share your dream with others and you have to cooperate together to make a fun experience.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Good thing we've moved beyond the whole "how evil are orcs" question and just accepted that there is no one answer and that it will vary from campaign to campaign. Oh, wait ... :cautious:
 

Jacob Lewis

Ye Olde GM
Alignment is one of those sacred cows that (surprisingly) has never really evolved in the game. Too often, we see it as a static script or recipe that we use to dictate our characters' personalities, when in fact, it should be a fluid gauge used to determine their general motives and ethics. All intelligent creatures possess a free will, even if they choose to believe that they have no choice or act in a way that is expected of them. This is why I think alignment should tracked rather than just announced. Actions determine alignment, not the other way around.

For new players, I think it's easier to simply break down the components into their individual axis and describe them in the most general terms, allowing players to discover the nature of their actions through narrative rather than prescribing it to them.

GOOD: places the needs and well-being of others before themselves.

EVIL: places their own needs and desires above all else.

LAWFUL: believes in the structure of order for the good of all

CHAOTIC: finds conformity and predictability to be unnatural

In order to determine the true nature of one's actions, you must consider their motive and their intent.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Alignment is one of those sacred cows that (surprisingly) has never really evolved in the game. Too often, we see it as a static script or recipe that we use to dictate our characters' personalities, when in fact, it should be a fluid gauge used to determine their general motives and ethics. All intelligent creatures possess a free will, even if they choose to believe that they have no choice or act in a way that is expected of them. This is why I think alignment should tracked rather than just announced. Actions determine alignment, not the other way around.

For new players, I think it's easier to simply break down the components into their individual axis and describe them in the most general terms, allowing players to discover the nature of their actions through narrative rather than prescribing it to them.

GOOD: places the needs and well-being of others before themselves.

EVIL: places their own needs and desires above all else.

LAWFUL: believes in the structure of order for the good of all

CHAOTIC: finds conformity and predictability to be unnatural

In order to determine the true nature of one's actions, you must consider their motive and their intent.
I think simple answers to this are the best answer because there is no one answer, nor does there need to be.

I get what the OP is trying to do and it may work for their campaign but honestly my eyes start to glaze over after about 50 words on alignment. YMMV.
 

I think simple answers to this are the best answer because there is no one answer, nor does there need to be.

I get what the OP is trying to do and it may work for their campaign but honestly my eyes start to glaze over after about 50 words on alignment. YMMV.
And rightly so. As I said earlier, as a DM, I will guide the new player toward one alignment that seems to correspond to what (s)he has in mind. These more or less strict guidelines are more for the new player than the experienced one. A new player will only need to read about half a page. (the original format takes about one column and a half for each alignment on a word file. The whole 9 alignments fits in a 7.3 page).

And of course they are rigid. Better a strict set of rules to honed the new player's skills toward what the table beliefs of the table than some vague assumptions. It prevents derails as all players know what will be expected. As a player evolve and understands the game and get better and better at RP, the guidelines can be put in drawer indefinitely. These are not an all absolute rule set, far from that.
 

By today's standard you are absolutely right. By medieval standard you are a fool.
Fortunately, D&D is not medieval. Not even close.

You wouldn’t tolerate the blatant sexism of the Middle Ages in fantasy D&D on the basis that “those were Unenlightened times”, din’t ask us to accept torture.
 


It can be. It depends entirely on the setting. D&D is a system of rules, nothing more.
No published setting is medieval. No published adventures take place in a medieval setting. I have never played in a D&D game where the players chose to stick to medieval tropes and avoid anachronisms.

A homebrew adventure could, I suppose, take place in a medieval setting, with the DM and the players limiting themselves to low-magic and attempting to be faithful to medieval tropes...

So you are technically correct...the best kind of correct!😊
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
One of the problems with a "medieval" system is that there is no such thing. It was not just one place or period, it spanned different cultures and times. Historians disagree all the time on what people's lives were really like and there are many, many misconceptions about the period.

That and most people simply don't care, as long as it has some simple to grasp tropes (castles! kings! thieves guilds!) much of the world gets glossed over.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
The thing that's weirdest about this is the amount of effort put into these arguments, when the current edition has largely removed alignment as an issue - it has no mechanical impact. It is a narrative cue, and nothing more.

There is absolutely no call for this thread to be tagged with "5e", as the issues discussed are only really relevant for prior editions.
 

I think simple answers to this are the best answer because there is no one answer, nor does there need to be.

I get what the OP is trying to do and it may work for their campaign but honestly my eyes start to glaze over after about 50 words on alignment. YMMV.

I mostly try to emphasize that doing whatever you want, when you want, as long as it benefits you isn't "True Neutral;" it's "Chaotic Evil."
 

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